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The fine line between repair and ruin

The fine line between repair and ruin

One story in the newspapers this week that caught our attention here at Plastic Surgeon concerned an octogenarian who attempted to restore a damaged 19th century religious artwork at her local church in Spain. The fading fresco, subjected to her DIY intervention, has left art experts lamenting, as it was about to be repaired by experts; while the media has dubbed it “the fresco fiasco”.

The 120-year-old fresco, Ecce Homo by Elijah Garcia Martinez, has been transformed into something that looks more like a baboon rather than Christ. A situation Plastic Surgeon would never get in, seeing that our Finishers are often artists as well as highly trained artisans, and have recently been involved in repairing a large wall mural at a hotel in Torquay. Meanwhile our more routine jobs involve replicating wood grain on doors, the marble or granite patterns on kitchen worktops, using fine sable brushes to affect a invisible to the naked eye.

Plus, of course, the only real barrier to finding employment as a Finisher is being colour blind; something we test for at the outset of the training course.

Thinking back to the hapless Spanish lady, her tale is just an extreme example of something most of us have attempted: sitting at the kitchen table with broken pieces of china and a tube of UHU, carefully trying to glue together something of sentimental value. Indeed, I can look around my home and see several items that have been ‘repaired,’ and ‘restored,’ by my ancestors – with equally disastrous results.

An historic 1930’s print from the London Illustrated News, which my grandfather carefully painted … a beautiful Art Deco vase, which looks as though it has been stapled back together. A little Georgian table with scratches, which have received some sort of mismatched colour wax to try and disguise the marks. If only Plastic Surgeon had been around, at least the repairs would have been practically indiscernible to the casual observer.

At the Derwent Hotel in Torquay, our Finishers were faced with the challenge of repairing a mural covering the entire wall to a swimming pool, which had suffered long term water penetration from the car park deck above. The 30 metre Aztec themed mural depicts a dramatic landscape in blues, violets, oranges and browns, which had blistered from the ceiling downwards thanks to the dampness.

Over two working days, our two Finishers rubbed down the affected areas and sprayed in the repairs, carefully matching the colours from Plastic Surgeon’s System 200 cellulose base materials.

While the story about the Spanish pensioner’s artistic efforts have upset some people, we can report that the fresco was more of sentimental value to the church than monetary. In fact, in the papers on-line, her misdemeanor has caused great hilarity, without upsetting religious sensitivities. Contrarily, her efforts may even draw visitors to the church to see the botched icon.

As for the Spanish lady, perhaps paint just isn’t the right medium for her. Maybe she should try sculpture, or even embroidery – I mean the Venus de Milo and Shroud of Turin both need work, don’t they?